Andres Avelino Anduaga, an illegal alien from Mexico previously arrested on gun, drug, and forgery charges, pleaded guilty Thursday to theft of public property and being a removed alien found in United States.
Anduaga’s plea agreement, entered with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, contains admissions that he assumed the identity of a Texas-born American citizen more than 37 years ago in 1980. Using it and 21 other invented or assumed identities, he claimed more than quarter million dollars of “Supplemental Security Income” benefits, over a hundred thousand dollars in public healthcare benefits, and, separately $12,000 in CalFresh / Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) all while being deported twice, arrested repeatedly on a variety of felony charges, and traveling between Mexico and the United States with impunity with his fraudulently obtained American passport.
The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kristina Davis assembles a vivid narrative 0f the man now known to be Anduaga—although it is still not completely certain that is his birth name. The Mexican illegal alien managed to get a California driver’s license, a Social Security card, and a U.S. passport, all while claiming to be Abraham Riojos, a similar-aged Texan later found to be living in Florida and completely unaware an illegal alien was using his identity to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the federal government.
The scheme was discovered only when a landlord admitted to a California Department of Health Care Services investigator that the man now known as Anduaga did not actually live at the address from which he was trying to claim additional benefits.
The man known as Anduaga used his ill-gotten passport to travel to Mexico “several times a week” and was arrested on one of these crossings when his Social Security scam was uncovered. He used a fake name, but was discovered to have a rap sheet dating back to 1974 on which he had used no fewer than 20 other such false identities.
“The programs that this defendant stole from—for decades—provide benefits to America’s most needy,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman, San Diego’s top federal prosecutor, said in a Justice Department press release. “This prosecution demonstrates the commitment of the United States Attorney’s Office to protecting the integrity of our welfare programs and punishing those who prey on the goodwill of our nation and its taxpayers.”
“The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General is committed to pursuing those individuals who violate the public trust wherever they may be found,” Robb Stickley of the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General added. “We will continue to uphold the integrity of the Supplemental Security Income program and other federal and state needs-based assistance programs that are a lifeline for so many Americans and their families.”
U.S. Border Patrol Spokesman Michael Scappechio also weighed in, saying, “Criminal cases in the border region oftentimes have an immigration nexus. In the spirit of law enforcement collaboration, the U.S. Border Patrol supports local, state and other federal partners in the prosecution of people who violate our nation’s immigration laws.”
Anduaga faces up to twelve years in federal prison on the charges to which he pleaded guilty and will be ordered to pay restitution and fines that could amount to well over one million dollars.